Review Summary: Should be decried by Amnesty International
All recent events transpiring around Queensryche have been so comically surreal, one has to wonder if they're not really some brilliant satire on aging rockstars. I remember the monkey business beginning around Queensryche's tour with Dream Theater, in which mediocre guitarist Mike Stone tried "coaching" John Petrucci on guitar playing. Geoff Tate even went around badmouthing Dream Theater in the press, saying something to the effect of "they play notes, we play music." But it wasn't until recently that things really started getting weird. Enter the character of Parker Lundgren, Tate's son-in-law who looks like Jack White with AIDS and has signature guitar picks that read "Dude, I'm totally nailing Geoff Tate's daughter." Then enter the "cabaret" shows, in which Queensryche augmented their already terrible act with flabby middle aged women flailing around on stage in garish clothing. They even brought some of their go-go dancers to a radio show for a performance of a mopey ballad, and if that wasn't awkward enough, Tate also discussed his daughter buying an 18 inch dildo on-air. All the necessary conditions were in place- a washed up band, desperate for relevancy but painfully out of touch with reality… I could sense a terrible album of St. Anger-like proportions brewing, but nothing could prepare me for the sheer terror of "Dedicated To Chaos."
Being a fan of Queensryche's old work, I was interested in this album, and launched into it with few preconceived notions of what it sounded like. I had only heard a band member describe it as "modern" sounding with a "headphones mix," which disturbed me, but I wanted to give the album a shot anyway. Here were my initial impressions of each track:
1. Get Started
: This track is decent in all honesty- just very bland and radio-oriented. Tate's vocals and lyrics and not quite as cringeworthy as they are on other tracks, and the chorus is kind of catchy. My primary complaint about this song is Michael Wilton's amateurish and out of tune
guitar solo. In researching Dedicated To Chaos, I discovered that Wilton was little more than a session musician on this album, contributing almost nothing to the songwriting process, which might account for his uninspired performance. I can't believe Geoff Tate would marginalize a 30 year member of the band to that extent. Scarier still is that most of the music on this album was composed by three non-band members, Randy Gane, Jason Slater, and Kelly Gray, their psycho producer who has been harassing people on Facebook who badmouth the album. Quite shameful, really. 2/5
2. Hot Spot Junkie
: After an amateurish guitar intro, the song kicks off with Tate crooning the following lyrics: "The wi-fi way, I'm addicted to the wi-fi way! In this miserable, satellite duel, I abuse, I abuse, the world wide web, and all the pictures on YouTube. YouTube!"
It's always embarrassing when people from Tate's generation try to comment on the internet, because it's something they'll never grasp the nuances of. You know- like the difference between YouTube and Photobucket. I'm still wondering what a "Hot Spot Junkie" even is. Maybe someone who's sexually attracted to dogs" 1/5
3. Got It Bad
: "You've got those sunglasses on. You've got those sunglasses on. You've got those sunglasses!" 0/5
4. Around The World
: A cry for world unity- on an album called "Dedicated To Chaos." What were they thinking" The only moderately redeeming aspects about this song are the guitars and keyboards, which I find pretty… pretty cheesy. This sounds like a Coke jingle. 1/5
: Some have already pointed out the similarities between this song and "Unskinny Bop" by Poison. Jeez, can Queensryche not even find good bands to plagiarize from" By now, the most annoying feature of the album is quite obvious: Geoff Tate's voice. He simply can't sing anymore, and is using superfluous effects and overwrought delivery to distract you from that fact. Not ten seconds go by without some overdub or effect being placed on Tate's voice- flange, echo, bandpass- might as well replace him with a computer. 1/5
6. Retail Therapy
: Geoff Tate appears to be suffering from Bonoitis- attacking the materialism of the Western world whilst living in the lap of luxury himself and attending fancy wine tasting parties. By the way, even his wine is getting bad reviews. Poor guy. Out of sympathy, I think I'll give this song a 3/5
. The chorus is OK.
7. At The Edge
: This song's so bad I can't even be sarcastic about it. Tate's lyrics and vocals are just so bad
. There's no other word for it. One of the more humorous aspects about this song is a huge pause after the phrase "you know what I'm saying""
as if the listener is supposed to respond or take a moment of reflection. 0/5
: Sounds like the soundtrack to a soap opera or Lifetime movie, or maybe a really bad cover of "Subterraneans." Any potential this song had was again, squelched by Tate's poor vocals. 1/5
9. Hard Times
: Here it is- the worst of the worst. This song's basically a horrid fusion of reggae and soul with Tate's computerized vocal spasms sprinkled over the top, and it goes on for an excruciating five and half minutes. There is some good news however: Tate has proven his dedication to the U.S. army by making a song bad enough to torture people at Guantanamo with. Way to go, Geoff! -3/5
: You know a band has hit rock bottom when they begin writing about subjects as mundane as "driving a car." No, I'm serious- this is what the song is about according to session guitarist Michael Wilton, though it somehow ties in with Tate's love life, I'm told. Some of Geoff's lyrics in this song are plain creepy, and it doesn't help that he's looking like the queer version of Anton LaVey lately. 1/5
11. I Believe
: In what" The first lyrics for this song are "I believe. That is what I believe. I believe. I believe. I believe."
Don't tell me you believe in love, Geoff, cause that would be selling out. Discussions of the meaning aside, this song is just horrible. It's set over some vaguely African or Indian sounding percussion, and some of Tate's vocals are downright atonal at parts. It's funny that for all the effects they used on his voice, they never considered using autotune for certain parts. 0/5
: The title for this track caused a storm in a teacup when it was first revealed. After a while, people realized it's meant to be stylized as "Luvin' U," which makes it even more retarded as far as I'm concerned. The lyrics are just as cringeworthy as the title: Loving you is like a card game, the odds are 6 to 2. Loving you is like a freight train rolling over everything."
They basically describe an unhealthy relationship, maybe like the one Geoff has with his domineering wife, but I'd say that's just a coincidence. 0/5
13. Wot We Do
: Another dumb title, and what's crazier is that Tate used this pun before on "Wot Kinda Man" from Q2K. Seriously, WOT is your fetish with this misspelling" This song has a sleazy, Vegas casino-like feel to it, which made it a perfect match for Queensryche's sleazy video about their cabaret show (watch it you feel like vomiting). What's shocking about this song, and Dedicated To Chaos in general, is the lack of guitars, coming from a band who has always been very guitar-driven. I guess it's a just a tacet admission that Chris DeGarmo can never be replaced. -1/5
14. I Take You
: A bad hard rock song. Probably just a desperate ploy for classic Queensryche fans. 1/5
15. The Lie
: A bad imitation of the bad imitation of grunge that Queensryche was in the 90s. 1/5
16. Big Noize
: Wow, I've actually made it to the end. I almost feel like I'm climbing out of the cave in The Descent, except there's one more hurdle: this stinker. Everything about this song is horrible: the title, the cringeworthy chorus, the "W Hotel elevator synths," Eddie Jackson's horrible clanking on the bass. And don't get me started on the guitar harmonies. Dave Murray and Adrian Smith could play better harmonies in their sleep. The title couldn't be more accurate as to the nature of this song, and this album: big noize, with a "z." -2/5
So what, if anything, can be learned from this debacle" The same thing rock bands should have learned with St. Anger: never try to be "modern" sounding, especially if you're an old school band, because it'll probably come off as poorly executed and disingenuous sounding. Everyone knows that "modern" music and "modern" production suck, and the fact that Queensryche would bring their music "through a time tunnel" shows how foolish they really are.